Best book on Python?

Alex Martelli aleax at
Thu Sep 20 09:50:59 CEST 2001

"Don O'Donnell" <donod at> wrote in message
news:3BA92159.305B5629 at
> > Programming Python 2nd edition and it looks good, but is it the best one
> > for an beginner-intermediate programmer?  (My Python experience is
> don't need a lot of hand-holding, the best Python book, in my opinion,
> is David Beazley's "Python Essential Reference".  Be sure to get the

Great book, but it's not really targeting beginner-intermediate.

> I have the first edition of programming Python (a gift) but haven't

The second one is MUCH better IMHO.  The first one managed to turn
me off Python for months.  The second one is enjoyable & instructive.

> Personally, I try to avoid the thousand page plus tombs that are
> cluttering the market these days, their information density is just so
> low that I waste too much time trying to get through them.  But, of

A very good general rule.  But I think that the best publishers
need to be judged by different standards: O'Reilly, New Riders,
Addison-Wesley just don't publish books with negligible information
density IMHO.  Prentice-Hall or Wrox *rarely* do, again IMHO.  If
you start going for SAMS, Osborne &c, then I do agree the 1000+pages
books are rarely worthwhile.

> Bruce Eckle is writing a "Thinking in Python" book.  I don't think it's
> been published yet, but it may be available for downloading on the net.
> His "Thinking in Java" (also downloadable) is one of the best on Java,
> so I'm looking forward to reading his take on Python.

Notice that "Thinking in Java" *IS* well into the "1000+ pages"
region.  So, it would seem you do agree that your condemnation
of low information density for such books is in actual fact more
selective than what you express above:-).

> A cheap place to buy computer books is  You can
> usually get 30 to 40% discounts there.  However I'm not sure if they
> ship to the UK.

Considering shipping (to Italy), I usually find cheapest
(US suppliers may turn out cheaper for some largish orders shipped
by slow means, when you order books you don't mind waiting for).

Although their webpages' attempts to sell me toys, CD's, software,
fish and chips and whatever else BUT books are starting to get on
my nerves (this holds for all branches of Amazon -- unless they get
back to their core competence of bookselling, they ARE eventually
going to lose my business, and not mine alone I think).


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